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FA Cup: Sanchez debuts, helps Man Utd into 5th round

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The first two (of 16) FA Cup fourth-round ties were contested on Friday, and with neither requiring a replay, two places in the fifth round have been spoken for…

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Tuesday ]

Yeovil Town 0-4 Manchester United

The 4-0 final score is more than a little flattering on Man United, who struggled to find their footing for a period of Friday’s clash with League Two side Yeovil. For the fourth year in a row, the Red Devils are through to the fifth round — now just two more victories away from a semifinals appearance at Wembley Stadium.

For much of the game’s opening half-hour, Yeovil played well above their current league standing (21st, just a point and a place clear of relegation, in England’s fourth division) and caused more problems than they themselves faced. It was relatively short-lived, though, as United wrestled control back something between the 30th and 35th minutes, just in time to grab what turned out to be the winning goal a few minutes before halftime. Marcus Rashford pounced on a fatal lapse of concentration, and all of Yeovil’s hard work was undone, just like that.

The only storyline that truly mattered ahead of Friday’s game revolved around Alexis Sanchez and his potential debut after arriving from Arsenal earlier in the week. The 29-year-old Chilean did indeed make his debut at Huish Park, and tallied his first assist for the club in the process. Rather than firing from distance himself, Sanchez played Ander Herrera through in the 61st minute, and the Spaniard finished from a difficult angle to make it 2-0.

Jesse Lingard (89th minute) and Romelu Lukaku (92nd) made the final score more comfortable than it perhaps should have been after coming on as substitutes late in the second half.

Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Reading

Championship side Sheffield Wednesday are also through to the fifth round four the first time in four years after knocking off a fellow second-division foe, Reading, at Hillsborough.

Atdhe Nuhiu scored both the game’s opening and winning goal, making it 1-0 to the home side after a half-hour, and 2-0 after just eight second-half minutes. George Boyd added a third, his first goal of the season, in the 61st minute. Reading’s 87th-minute consolation goal came courtesy of a Cameron Dawson own goal.

Saturday’s FA Cup schedule

Peterborough vs. Leicester City — 7:30 a.m. ET
Southampton vs. Watford — 10 a.m. ET
Wigan Athletic vs. West Ham United — 10 a.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Brighton & Hove Albion — 10 a.m. ET
Huddersfield Town vs. Birmingham City — 10 a.m. ET
Notts County vs. Swansea City — 10 a.m. ET
Sheffield United vs. Preston North End — 10 a.m. ET
Milton Keynes Dons vs. Coventry City — 10 a.m. ET
Millwall vs. Rochdale — 10 a.m. ET
Hull City vs. Nottingham Forest — 10 a.m. ET
Newport County vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion — 2:45 p.m. ET

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Chelsea vs. Newcastle United — 7:30 a.m. ET
Cardiff City vs. Manchester City — 11 a.m. ET

Transfer rumors: Willian, Alderweireld to Manchester United

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The transfer rumor mill is picking up steam this Monday, including some persistent whispers regarding two Premier League players with possible futures at Old Trafford.

Both of these make a lot of sense.

[ MORE: Nashville hires ex-Liverpool CEO ]

A day after Nemanja Matic stressed the need for experienced players at United, two good fits hit the rumor mill (again).

Matic’s old Chelsea pal Willian has interest from United if he seeks a way out of London — which seems likely — where he’s said to be ready to go if Antonio Conte remains as manager.

Then there’s Toby Alderweireld, whose been very strong at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur but reportedly fallen out with current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

During a rut, the Tottenham manager claimed that Alderweireld was held out of Spurs’ lineup due to the form of the players in front of him.

Also from Sky, we’ll leave this quote from PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi on the idea of possibly selling Kylian Mbappe.

Al-Khelaifi told Canal+: “You want me to give you a number? More than €1bn! Yes, I said one billion! And even if you gave me a billion, I wouldn’t sell him.”

Pogba: Mourinho “made me progress in leadership”

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Paul Pogba says “we are never sure of anything but contractually, it’s sure” that he’ll remain at Manchester United.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from United’s most expensive transfer purchase, as many have linked him with a move away from Old Trafford.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

He also said he’s not worried about his relationship with United boss Jose Mourinho, and pointed out that his problems and growth in Manchester are a natural part of a player’s progression. From Sky Sports:

“There were times where I wasn’t playing, I was on the bench. There was a lot of talk, people thought it wasn’t working out,” Pogba added.

“But a coach and a player don’t have to be best friends, we don’t have to go to restaurants together. I had a few little problems too… football is sometimes all about the mental side. He put me on the bench and I gave my response on the pitch. I always give everything I’ve got.

“He made me progress in leadership. I had the armband with Mourinho, it was the first time in a club, it’s important for me, it makes me grow to be also a leader in the France team.”

In a candid talk, the 25-year-old Pogba was asked about Paris Saint-Germain and told French television that he’d be open to representing the club in the future despite the fact that his parents are Marseille supporters.

Moore takes hold of West Brom’s promotion bid

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Darren Moore‘s spell as West Brom caretaker manager couldn’t quite pull off a miraculous run to Premier League safety, but the promise it contained has helped him to the first chance at earning promotion back to the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion announced Moore as its new manager on Monday, with the boss promising his Baggies would play attractive football while also being a side “that’s willing to fight and scrap for every ball.”

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Moore is also happy to carry a flame for minority coaches — called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) — in England.

“If it does inspire others, I would be extremely proud,” he said. “I don’t just speak on behalf of BAME coaches but the young, aspiring British coaches across the board.”

Moore, 44, only lost one of his six PL matches as WBA boss, winning three times and inspiring many to wonder what would’ve happened had the Baggies’ pulled the plug on Alan Pardew — and Tony Pulis before him — earlier.

A center back in his playing career, Moore spent 18 seasons between a number of clubs including West Brom, Derby County, and Doncaster Rovers. He won promotion as a player twice with West Brom, and again with Derby.

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.